This holiday season you may find yourself looking for killer online deals for that special technophile in your life. Tiger Direct gets a lot of attention as an inexpensive, although sketchy, retailer of electronics. Its reputation and low-cost owes something to its controversial rebate program, which is partially tied to an antivirus suite known as “Total Defense”.
For example, just recently I purchased an Intel 530 240GB SSD for $99. Although, the price could have come in for as low as $69.99 using an American Express card. I noticed several fairly sketchy things:
First: This deal came with two rebates: One from Total Defense and the other from Intel.
Second: Reviews indicate it suffers from serious issues.
Third: The Total Defense bundle includes a subscription service that bills customers even if they uninstall the software.
Unfortunately, Tiger Direct’s rebates can cause a terrible amount of confusion, damage and cost quite a bit of money. After years of experience with such run-arounds, I’ve documented three of the major pitfalls and how to bypass them. This article covers the three major stumbling blocks to getting rebates paid:
First: How to bypass clerical issues.
Second: How to avoid installing Tiger Direct’s unfortunate antivirus suite.
Third: How to avoid getting unwanted credit card charges.
Note: There’s some confusion regarding Total Defense. It doesn’t appear to be owned by Tiger Direct, although Tiger appears to be the only retailer that offers their rebates. Also, I don’t advocate signing up for the Tiger’s Total Defense antivirus suite. I do suggest making sure you get your money back.
Step One: Register and Print Out the Rebate Forms
Laziness will cost you. The first step requires online registration and printing out the rebate and invoice forms. Tiger makes these forms easy to spot when you first buy the item, but difficult to locate a week or two later. They also don’t supply invoices, unless you request them. Thus, the sooner you take care of it all, the better. Before buying an item, make sure to locate and print out the PDF rebate files.
Inside the PDF rebate forms are links to the actual rebates which you must print out. After following the link inside of the PDF, you will be directed to register at a third party rebate processor. Complete the forms and then print out the paperwork.
Additionally, you must also print out your invoice. Tiger Direct doesn’t supply these, but a handy way to acquire them is by going to their Order Tracking page and having them email you the invoice. This gives you both a copy of the invoice and an email, which you can easily print out.
Step Two: Virtualize Total Defense’s Installation
Tiger’s unfortunate antivirus suite Total Defense failed to impress many customers. Reports of lost data, disrupted Internet and more abound. Unfortunately, Tiger requires that you install their software before you can file for the rebate. Rather than installing it, I highly suggest using virtualization software, such as VMware or Virtualbox (our guide to VirtualBox). Virtualization software can install an operating system within an operating system, allowing for easy full-system backups. You can also dump a virtualized installation after evaluating certain software.
Recently Microsoft announced that XP’s availability via download, meaning you can now get an XP license for free. Simply put, just install the virtualization software and slap XP on it. Then install Tiger’s antivirus suite to get the activation code. Then dump the entire installation.
I suggest keeping a virtualized copy of XP around, just for the sole purpose of evaluating software. If you don’t like the software, dump the entire installation.
Step Three: Cancel the Regular Payment Schedule
The worst feature of Tiger’s antivirus software is that it will begin charging you $79.99 after the first year elapses, unless you opt out of their program. Those who forget will receive a nasty charge on their credit card. You must unenroll and keep in mind the various exceptions and pitfalls that will cost you the rebate.
Visit Total Defense Website and Unenroll
Yes, Tiger uses a separate website for rebates. To opt out, you must go to the Tiger’s Total Defense hasn’t been well-reviewed.. You can also opt-out at any time, even before the software is activated. I suggest doing that immediately, if you prefer another anti-virus suite.
You can only use the Total Defense rebate a single time. After that, you are no longer eligible for additional rebates. So if you make a purchase, and already cashed in your Total Defense rebate, you won’t receive the money from it. A few key points of caution to remember:
- If you don’t hear back from Tiger Direct within the allotted amount of time, call them or visit their rebate center.
- Remember that they have your credit card number. If they don’t, then you won’t be able to receive the activation code.
- Another concern regarding rebates — once you file them, you no longer can return the item to the vendor. Only the manufacturer’s warranty applies.
Tiger Direct’s Total Defense antivirus package suffers from serious problems. However, as a one-time payment of $60, it can sometimes provide a killer deal. Just don’t fall for their tricks – make sure you file on time by printing out the PDFs early. Also, it helps to use virtualization to avoid an uninstallation process and potential damage to your system. Finally, remember to cancel their renewal service otherwise you’ll receive a bill within a year.
Image Credits: Tiger Cub via MorgueFile